Every club now knows how to beat Arsenal (according to reports)


Why do some teams always get so few yellow cards?

By Tony Attwood

Apparently, the loss to Everton is very bad news indeed for Arsenal as it wasn’t only a defeat, but it was a defeat that allowed all the rest of the league teams to see how to beat Arsenal.  If Everton can do it everyone can, and Arsenal will just let it happen, at least according to the Daily Mirror.

They argue that “Everton’s power in midfield overwhelmed [Arsenal] and the organisation at the back negated the visitors’ ability to find space around the box.”

As a result, “this was a bad defeat for Mikel Arteta’s side because it shows others how to not only frustrate them, but to get at them too. On another day, Calvert-Lewin could have had a hat trick, and that is a huge concern for Arsenal’s their young manager.”  (The grammatical gibberish is the Mirror’s style, not mine).

But there is a particular problem here because it suggests that Everton have seen this approach, and can utilise it – along with every other club that has a technical director watching the match.  Meanwhile poor, sorry Arsenal won’t think of any way to overcome it.   Arsenal, in fact, has the dumbo management while everyone else employs experts.

Which is a bit of a strange way to look at things given that Arsenal are five points clear at the top of the league with over half the season gone and a game in hand.

But let’s consider something else: yellow cards.

Now we know that referees in the PL will not give yellow cards to players of Manchester City or Liverpool – indeed it has been like this for years.  The media of course tend to ignore this oddity, so we thought we’d have a look.

The table below shows the number of yellow cards for Manchester City, Liverpool, Arsenal and in the final column the club with the highest number of yellow cards that season


Season Manchester City Liverpool Arsenal Top club
2014/15 77 (4th) 66 (11th) 69 (9th) Sunderland (94)
2015/16 61 (8th) 61 (7th) (A) 40 (20th) Aston Villa (75)
2016/17 71 (11th) (B) 54 (19th) 68 (13th) Watford (84)
2017/18 59 (10th) 44 (19th) 57 11th) West Brom (73)
2018/19 44 (19th) 38 (20th) 72 (4th) Watford (77)
2019/20 60 (15th) 38 (20th) 86 (1st) (C) Arsenal (86)
2020/21 46 (19th) 40 (20th) 47 (17th) Sheffiled Utd (73)
2021/22 42 (20th) 50 (18th) 60 (13th) Leeds (101)
2022/23 22 (19th=) 22 (19th=) 34 (13th) Fulham (54)


  • (A) Klopp joined 8 October 2015
  • (B) Guardiola joined 1 February 2016
  • (C) Areta joined in December 2019

We can see from the Manchester City column that after a year and a quarter with Guardiola, they went from being an average yellow card team to a team that is mostly 19th or 20th in the yellow card table, year after year.

With Liverpool, we can see that after one year of Liverpool with Klopp, they went from being a mid-range yellow card team to a team that hardly gets cards at all.  Again year after year.

With Arsenal it was clear that the board never gave Emery a fulsome understanding of how refereeing works in the Premier League.  Eventually it was down to Arteta to solve the problem, and he adopted dramatic means in his first full season.   

However, Arteta then made replacing the team a priority, bringing in young players who have not fully adopted the “no yellows” approach of Manchester City and Liverpool.   Whether that is because of a failure of the manager, or a refusal of the PGMO to be manipulated further, we can’t really say.  Maybe it was a difficulty in changing the newcomers into “defend without tackling” players…

But what is utterly remarkable is that year on year, Manchester City and Liverpool have still managed to avoid getting yellow cards, ensuring that they normally get only half the number of cards that the most penalised clubs get.

Now, this can have an impact because already we can see a collection of clubs with more than one player in the top 20 list of yellow card offenders.  Fulham and Manchester United have three such players, Brighton, Palace, Newcastle and Tottenham have two each.  Suspensions will follow.

Overall, this season looks like a continuation of all the rest.  Arsenal are 13th in the yellow card table, Liverpool are 19th, Manchester City 20th.

Which raises the question, how can Liverpool ensure that they are not getting yellow cards year after year, irrespective of where they are in the league and who they have in the team?

In 2019/20 Liverpool won the league and were bottom in terms of yellow cards.   Today they are 10th in the league and still equal bottom (with Manchester City) in terms of yellow cards. 

Indeed it all just seems rather unlikely that two teams can always be bottom of the table in terms of getting yellow cards, no matter where they are in the league.  But I’m sure there is a good explanation.  I just can’t quite think of it at the moment.


11 Replies to “Every club now knows how to beat Arsenal (according to reports)”

  1. @Ben,

    the fans expect Citeh will buy its way out of trouble and the press will just go along putting a positive-this-is-genius spin on it

  2. Liking it or not the methods that Dyche utilised will be patterned just as the rotational kick them system was employed all along the M62 under the guise of one Fergie.
    It was often said that we had a soft underbelly and to his credit Dyche formulated a plan that with Coote’s permission worked to a tee.
    They harried , left their foot in , feigned injury and did everything to break the flow of our football .
    Don’t expect anything different as the season progresses . At home we can use fast passing to get through their ” low blocks” or bus parking as it was once known but away expect the grass to be a little longer with even a little sand to slow the ball on the floor .
    It’s down to us to find a way to get past it.

  3. Surely a similar conclusion can be drawn about Manchester City? Stop Haarland receiving the ball you stop City. Simples.

    I would imagine you could draw similarly facile conclusions for stopping any team in the World.

    If only it were that simple. If it were then David Maddock could be getting paid twice for coaching at Manchester City, rather than writing drivel for The Daily Mirror and stumbling around the Toppled Bollard on a daily basis.

  4. It has been clear for many seasons how to beat Arsenal.

    Stop Odegaard by raking the back of his legs in the first minute. Gouge Saka in the eyes at the first opportunity. Throw yourself on the floor and stay down feigning injury whenever an Arsenal player comes near. Get in the referee’s face at all times, pleading for goal-kicks to become corners when attacking and the converse when defending.

    Rely on the referees being short-sighted / incompetent / biased. Appeal to their liking for good old-fashioned physical violence (unless committed by Arsenal). After all, it’s supposed to be a “man’s game” and a contact sport and referees are supposed to ignore bad tackles so that the game can flow. Be prepared to feign a head-injury whenever Arsenal look to be building a promising attack.

    Etc.Etc. From the guide-book of Pulis, Allardyce, Dyche

  5. @Nitram,

    you forget stopping Kane and Sane…

    The stupidity of the deadwood journalists is limitless…. so be it.

    Arsenal need to rise above these obstacles. The referees are incompetent. I do not believe one second they are corrupt. Just arrogant incompetent morons. And we have to deal with them. And say what you want, they have been better this season then in past seasons, at least this is how I’m seeing the games. The fact Arsenal are the PL’s poster child does have an effect.

    Teams will resort to many strategies to contain us. Mr Arteta and the players will learn from each game how to overcome them.

    Surprisingly the PL this season is much more balanced then we all expected. So it will be harder on each and every team pretending for a top 4 place and even harder for the first place.

  6. Chris

    “I do not believe for one second they (referees) are corrupt”.

    Me either, at least not in the accepted ‘brown envelope’ sense of the word. I have always said they simply follow the medias preferred teams. As I see it, it is they that are the referees judge jury and executioner. As such, as long as they apply the laws of the game accordingly they are safe from criticism, and safe in their job.

    “And say what you want, they have been better this season then in past seasons, at least this is how I’m seeing the games. The fact Arsenal are the PL’s poster child does have an effect”

    Yes they have. And that right there is evidence of what I am saying.

    Arsenal have always had a fractious relationship with the media and that was dramatically exacerbated by their eventual hatred, and I mean that, hatred of Wenger, which meant the referees could, and often as not did, referee us with utter contempt for the laws of the game.

    As you suggest Chris, we are indeed being refereed, if not well, at least better than for a very long time. And that I believe is indeed on the back of the medias largely positive attitude towards at least some of our players, particularly the young English contingent.

    This manifests itself most obviously in their attitude towards Saka, who it seems is universally loved, understandably so.

    He is without doubt our gold plated poster boy.

  7. OT
    Does anybody know if Man U and Crystal Palace have been charged by the FA for failing to control their players in the twenty man brawl which occurred in yesterdays match at Old Trafford?

  8. Be serious Mick , never going to happen .
    Why do you think we got Coote again so soon after our fine against Watford.? Probably because he would have free reign to use his influence over us without to much complaint.

  9. Nitram,

    As you say, it seems that Saka is universally loved. However, this does not prevent him being repeatedly kicked all over the place.

  10. John L

    True enough. Not only that but he gets booked at the slightest opportunity. Bit odd really.

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